Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Scholarships to College Students in Kiryat Malachi

For over a dozen years, the Seattle Jewish community through the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has had a special relationship with the Israeli development town of Kiryat Malachi. Currently, over 25% of the town's population is Ethiopian-Israeli.

Since 2006, thanks to a a generous $250,000 donation from the Meta Rosenbaum Endowment Fund, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has awarded annual scholarship of $2,500 to some of the brightest college students who live in Kiryat Malachi. All these "Dream Team" students are from immigrant Ethiopian-Israeli families and have worked extremely hard to be able to study in universities. Often they have been the first in their families to go to college. Many also work to support their siblings while some are also married. Many have parents who do not read or speak Hebrew. Without this financial help, most would not have been able to continue their university studies.

The $2500 annual award is for four years, including one year of preparatory studies and the subsequent three to four years of study for a BA or BS degree. Another component of the scholarship is a $250 gift, awarded to each recipient for personal expenses.

On February 5th, an annual award ceremony was held in Kiryat Malachi with the current recipients in attendance, many of whom are finishing their last year of university. In addition to the students, guests included a representative from the "Dream Team" Jewish Agency program, Moti Malka (the mayor of Kiryat Malachi), and Itai Zilberberg (the regional Jewish Agency representative). Amy Wasser Simpson, Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, handed out the awards to the recipients. Dina Tanners, co-chair of the Seattle Israel Connection committee, spoke to the recipients in Hebrew on behalf of Seattle.
Mayor Malka congratulating scholarship recipient
Amy Wasser-Simpson handing out award

Dina tanners speaking on behalf of Seattle

Some of the recipients

A number of students are studying social work and hope to work within their communities when they graduate.

Eldad Taraka is one of the scholarship recipients. Last year he spoke in Hebrew, representing the group. He was the first male student of Ethiopian origin to study fashion design in te Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Israel's top design school. He is very proud of his achievement and is a real trailblazer.
Avi spoke for the group this year. He is finishing law school and will start an internship at a law firm in the Tel Aviv area. He has also worked as a security guard while studying. He is not sure if he will combine his interests in law and security or go into government or the diplomatic corps. In any event, he has a bright future. He spoke eloquently in English. He and the others especially wanted to communicate to the Seattle Jewish community their gratitude for the scholarships and the opportunities that they afforded them. Because of the scholarships, their lives and those of their families have profoundly been changed.
Recipients and others in attendance

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